Left hand by Rocky Darkroads (@rockydarkroads)
Right hand by Rocky Darkroads (@rockydarkroads)
Tops of hands done by Laura Yahna (@the.girl.with.the.matchsticks)
José Prager is the owner of an online bookstore for magicians, a real estate company, and an extensive collection of tattoos done in black ink. He was born in Mexico City and currently splits his time between that city and Hollywood. Now 28, Prager has been building a substantial collection of tattoos for the past five years.
When did you start getting tattooed?
I got my first tattoo five years ago—a OUIJA board on my forearm!
What made you want to get tattooed? What are your first memories of seeing tattoos?
I always loved how tattooed people looked like. I thought they look badass. I still do.
Who first tattooed you and how did you choose the design and placement of that tattoo?
The OUIJA board on my forearm was done in Mexico by a friend named Alan Copetez. I have always loved mystery, magic, and the paranormal. I use it with a finger on my right hand sometimes, when I want to scare people!
After your first piece, did you deliberately build a collection? How do you conceive of the relationship between your tattoos?
After my first piece, I simply fell in love with how it looked and how it made me feel, so I decided to keep going. Each tattoo made me feel more like me. I was always a bit insecure about my body because I have very heavy stretchmarks that were the result of bodybuilding in my late teens. I’ve now also covered my body with awesome art and met the most amazing people in the process.
Are there particular pieces that have had a lasting symbolic and/or historical significance to you? Is the meaning of a given piece or the time and context in which you got it important to you?
I have many special pieces and many more with meaning. It’s too difficult for me to list them all here. The meaning of some of my tattoos is simply love of art.
Back done by Rocky Darkroads (@rockydarkroads)
Ribs by Emily Malice (@emilymalice)
Blacked-out arm done by @lagrimasdefuego
Snakes by The Crocodile Tattooer (@thecrocodiletattooer) | Eye on chest by Vanpira (@vanpriegonova)
Flames done by Rocky Darkroads (@rockydarkroads)
How do you understand being substantially tattooed? How does it differ from living with your first few pieces?
I feel awesome. I love carrying so much art on my body and I love when people make positive comments about them as I’m going about my day. The main difference is that now I look more badass, and I love how that feels.
How do you choose your artists and motifs?
I only collect blackwork tattoos. I choose them by carefully looking at artists’ portfolios: I look for black, and bold lines that will look cool even when I’m in my 90s. I’ll travel to another country just to get a tattooed if I like the work of the artist.
Has your collection received any interesting reactions that you’d like to share?
As you can see, I have a blacked-out arm. I was scared to show it to my grandmother, but when the opportunity arrived, I went for it and showed her my black arm. I knew I was going to be punished verbally. She just touched it and told me, “it feels so soft, what body lotion do you use?”
You can see more of Prager’s work on Instagram, @joseprager.